I went to the lakefront recently and the same thing happened to me when I went last year, I got depressed.
Chicago’s beautiful lakefront has become a garbage dump, at least the Montrose Beach area has. I hadn’t the heart or will to investigate the others.
There are cans and bottles strewn everywhere. Joining the ranks of these dead soldiers (the unfortunate colloquialism for emptied beverage containers) are empty plastic snack containers that once held chips, pretzels, cookies, Fruit Roll-Ups, etcetera. These visible IED’s (I may as well continue with the military metaphors) have turned the park and beach into a veritable mine field of debris.
And it was only the middle of April!
What has happened to the human species? The label of the 1970s as “The Me Decade” was way too premature. If any period of time is asking for a label of self-obsession, it is this one.
“The Fuck Everything” decade might be a more apt label. Just look who was elected president.
Clean it up!
A preening narcissist with a head full of emptiness voted in as president is the culmination of the “Fuck Everything” decade. We have had years of televised entertainment that promoted public degradation, humiliation and gloating. A sizable portion of the public ate it up and hasn’t looked back since.
So, it seems, concern for one’s surroundings has, like litter, fallen to the wayside. Concern for one’s fellow humans has as well. Just look at the number of shootings.
Guns and litter. There’s some kind of connection there.
We seem to treat life as we do an empty can of Red Bull™ or a depleted bag of Ruffles™ —we toss it over our shoulder. The big diff being that the life is still full. The shoulder-tossing decision is what empties it.
I, like everyone else, have no solution to the onslaught of violence that has become commonplace in our society. So far, nothing has worked.
When I was a youngster back in the early ‘60s, litter had become a major problem. People thought nothing of tossing garbage out their car windows as they drove down streets and highways. Beaches, parks and neighborhoods were trash-filled eyesores.
People, as always, needed direction. They needed education. The follies of their ways needed to be pointed out but in a non-accusatory manner. Again, as always, it was children who initially took heed and led the way.
The government (that thing Republicans passionately hate) stepped up and instituted an anti-littering campaign using cartoon mascots like “Don’t Be a Litter Bug” and Woodsy the Owl with his “Give a Hoot-Don’t Pollute” slogan. These refrains filled the airwaves on radio and television as well as in print and on billboards and highway signs.
And it worked!
Adults, both from the onslaught of these PSA’s and through the incessant chastening of children became more aware and eco-friendly. Littering ceased to be a major problem and society remained ecologically vigilant…until recently, that is.
The time seems ripe for another anti-littering campaign. Some will argue that our modern society is too cynical for such an approach to be successful. I say, let the children lead us.
But, will it work with gun violence? “Give a Hoot-Don’t Shoot!”, “Don’t Be a Trigger-Bug”, an updated version of a tear-stained Iron Eyes Cody stating “People start gun violence, people can stop it”—will those simplistic approaches make any kind of dent upon society’s psyche?
Who knows? But, one thing I do know is that cartoons and children can work wonders.
Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Privy to the Privy…
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One can hold something in for only so long before it’s impossible not to finally let it go. A time comes when one must simply stand up and release what has been building up inside. That time is now.
I’m going to come out and publicly address something that we gents have discussed privately among ourselves during our many heartfelt confabs that take place in garages next to an open car hood or in front of a wide screen television displaying a sporting event and even while seated on bar stools while hoisting a few in a local watering hole.
Being of a benign nature, we have been too polite and gentile to broach the subject with our female counterparts but I feel that someone needs to speak up and ruffle a few feathers so I am going to mention that unmentionable something right here and that unmentionable something is aimed directly at you women. I, of course, am referring to your lack of reciprocal toilet etiquette.
There. I’ve said it.
For eons, women have complained about men not putting down the toilet seat after they have finished urinating. The female species is simply not satisfied with the fact that we, in our thoughtfulness, raise the seat before we begin taking care of business. Y’think they’d be a little grateful. But, noooo, they whine about the seat being left up.
Apparently, the ladies don’t look before they sit and they end up falling halfway into the toilet bowl. Then a whole procedure of prying them loose begins using an arsenal of items such as butter and crowbars.
Out of the kindness of our hearts, as well as hating to see all that butter go to waste, we make it a point to put the seat down when we finish our duty and, often, even flush. But, when the ladies are finished answering their call of nature, do they put the toilet lid down? Noooo, they do not. We have to walk into a bathroom and be greeted by the gaping maw of an open toilet.
It’s disgusting. It’s unnerving. It’s akin to the voracious plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” growling “Feed me, feeeed me.”
I shiver each time I enter a bathroom with an open-mouthed toilet grinning at me like that. We males have proven that it’s not a very difficult task to lower the seat. It takes no time at all. I’m quite certain that even the so-called weaker sex can summon up the strength to close the lid. Besides, it’s a proven hygienic fact that one should shut the lid when flushing so microscopic drops of waste matter do not splash onto the sink, floor and toothbrushes.
That’s the voice of science, girls.
So, dear damsels, could we please ask that when you’ve finished “powdering your nose” that, in the spirit of commodal camaraderie, you simply and gently put a lid on it?
In return, we men might even begin hanging the toilet paper roll correctly (whichever way that might be).
Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Once…
I open up my eyes,
see the ceiling up there,
feel I’m still breathing
It’s so unfair
Once I swam the oceans,
built pyramids on the sand
I answered to no master
and feared no reprimand
Got a bed and dresser,
a window and TV,
meals get delivered
Someone feeds ‘em to me
Once I was strong as any sun,
my eyes were filled with flames
Into the sky I would soar
and hear the stars roar out my name
I move via wheels,
ambulation is quite slow
Cautiously the days crawl by
I count them as they go
Once I was a thoroughbred
Once I ran fast and free
Once I was a young man
Once I was me
—written after visiting my father in a retirement home and dedicated to all those aged wonders who are living well beyond their prime…
Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Tangled…
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Leonard Cohen & Judy Collins–1976
BB King at Cook County Jail–1971
All photos © Jon Randolph
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These pictures are from the shoreline of Lac Seule in Ontario.
All photos © Jon Randolph 2014
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The morning after a torrid penance-atoning escapade, Father Frustrari awoke and found all his rosary beads in a mare’s nest of seemingly insurmountable entanglement.
Sighing deeply, he loosened his clerical collar, uttered the Serenity Prayer and sat down on the floor with hopes of calmly taking apart the beaded mess.
Time ticked slowly by and he had been able to free only a single strand and what seemed like parts of a few others. The determined priest wiped the perspiration from his forehead and upper lip with the hem of his cassock and soldiered on.
Success continued to be elusive. He looked down at the imbroglio of beads in his hands and muttered, “It would take a miracle to untangle all this.”
“Hmmm,” he said in afterthought, ” a glass of wine does sound good.”
A bottle of Lambrusco was uncorked and with filled glass in hand he returned to his cross-legged position on the floor.
“Why do I let myself get so carried away when reciting the rosary?” he wondered aloud.
“I know, it’s those Hail Marys.” he chortled, “The thought of that virgin gets me so excited.”
His face reddened and quickly he crossed himself while reciting under his breath the prayer that was named after the mother of Our Lord.
He was like a character in an illustration by Jim Siergey…
Finding his glass empty, he left the untangling only momentarily before returning with a full one as well as the bottle that then sat next to him upon the tiled floor. As he continued to imbibe and tear at the entwined rosaries, he continued his confessions to the empty room.
“Darn this competitive nature of mine. If only I hadn’t read that article about a priest in Buenos Aires who had set a Guinness book of records for saying twenty five rosaries simultaneously.”
He shook his head and took another sip of wine and whined some more, “So I just had to try and do thirty of them.”
“And I don’t even like Guinness.”
He chuckled at his private bon mot.
“If these beads were different colors it might be easier but, no, they had to all be black and white.”
He prodded and pulled and urged and weaved but the disentanglement continued to go slowly. In the meantime, another bottle of Lambrusco was uncorked.
Dusk was occurring and a thin ray of diminishing sunlight filtered in through the sole window of the priest’s humble room. As he continued to fumble and fuss with the jumbled beads, the bottle emptied and the only light in the room came from a streetlamp outside. The beads began to take on a life of their own.
The smaller black beads began to gain facial features. Impish features. Devilish features. They turned into five satanic visages, complete with sprouted horns and pointy chins. Their eyes seemed ablaze and their mouths contorted obscenely.
Shocked, the priest cast his aghast glance further up the rosary chain to the large white beads. They had become skulls. Horrid, bleached cranial-shaped entities with vacant eye sockets and taunting, clattering teeth. A wet, glistening tongue flicked in and out from between the teeth like an oily snake that had been dipped into a carafe of Extra Virgin olive oil.
He looked further down the rosaries to where the crucifixes attached at the bottoms. The crucifixes had become daggers! Sparkly, slithery daggers.
The labyrinth of snarling demon heads, laughing skulls and pointy daggers wrapped themselves around the priest’s hands, binding them tight. He thrashed and clattered and fell about the room in a fevered frenzy.
The next morning a fellow priest, after gently rapping against Father Frustrari’s door, opened it to find the holy man lying on the floor, his arms and legs outstretched as if in the middle of making a linoleum angel.
Upon closer inspection he saw that the fallen Father’s wrists were slashed and bloody. The suspected tools of the slashing and severing were the broken pieces of glass that surrounded his body.
Also on the floor around the prone padre were unstrung rosary beads. They were scattered about but a portion of them seemed to travel in an arced pathway.
The young priest’s eyes, already wide with surprise, followed the dwindling trail and saw that it led to a thick paperback book. He walked over and bent down to get a closer look at it.
The title of it read The Guinness Book of World Records.
The young cleric straightened up and put hand to chin as he reflected.
“That’s odd,” he spoke aloud, “I thought Father Frustrari didn’t like stout.”
Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Art for Arturo…
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